NEWS

Grubby, but still the real thing

Eleven months after the euro appeared as legal tender in Greece, a steadily increasing number of counterfeit euro banknotes are finding their way into circulation. However, wear and tear on the paper money, which is proving much less resilient than the old drachmas, can help inflate fears of widespread forgery. «From June onward, we have noticed a really big increase in forged notes of all denominations,» Katerina Morou, financial director of the Veropoulos supermarket chain, told Kathimerini, adding that Veropoulos cashiers use special pens to detect counterfeit notes, and will soon receive more sophisticated equipment. According to Georgios Dimitriadis, who handles foreign exchange transactions at the National Bank of Greece’s Syntagma Square branch, counterfeiters focus on the 50-euro note. «At first, it was quite rare,» he said. «But over the past four or five months we have been getting counterfeit 50 euro notes pretty often.» Many, he said, are extremely well printed. “But if you feel them, you immediately realize that something is wrong. Forgers cannot imitate the quality of the authentic paper. However, a kiosk owner may not be able to distinguish between fakes and the real thing.» But police experts say that as time passes and notes get more and more worn, shopowners may end up being fooled by their forgery-detectors into seeing fake notes everywhere. For the time being, they add, counterfeit money is not a big problem. According to the police’s National Center for Euro Analysis, genuine euro banknotes that have been accidentally washed in the laundry and then ironed will fail most authenticity tests – even the more sophisticated ones. This is also the case with soiled, tattered banknotes.